UltiPhotos: Blog https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog en-us (C) UltiPhotos, LLC orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) Fri, 22 May 2020 16:05:00 GMT Fri, 22 May 2020 16:05:00 GMT https://www.ultiphotos.com/img/s/v-12/u56632684-o1024428926-50.jpg UltiPhotos: Blog https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog 120 86 Last Day https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2020/5/last-day I am writing to announce that I am no longer the Managing Director of UltiPhotos.

 

In the summer of 2012, feeling adrift and directionless following my college graduation, I emailed Kevin Leclaire, the founder of UltiPhotos, for some tips on my ultimate photography. I had casually covered my college team over three years, and it was one of the few things I knew I felt passionate about. “I am not nearly on par with the UltiPhotos photographers”, I wrote, simply hoping for some advice. Kevin was very encouraging and kind, asking me to put together a portfolio and offering some guidance. The conversation ended, and I hoped that someday, with this advice and maybe some new gear, I could become a photographer with the team. When UltiPhotos announced a job opening for a Manager of Operations later that year, I jumped at the opportunity. Kevin brought me on as a photographer at the same time, a move I still question to this day. :)

 

Over the years, I abandoned my other part-time jobs and expanded my role to a full-time one, a necessity to keep up with the exponential growth of Kevin’s small business. I learned about licensing, accounting, schedule creation, partnership agreements, conducting interviews and managing other team members, social media management, and more. I met so many wonderful people, champions and supporters of UltiPhotos who made me feel so fortunate to work in this community. I met others who challenged my resolve and frustrated me to the point of exhaustion. I fervently defended the rights of our photographers and our small business, and I grew much more confident in my role as a leader. (Although, I do still get nervous before phone calls!) And I worked with such talented, passionate, and thoughtful people. Our photographers, our interns, our social media managers and graphic designers, and of course, Kevin. I owe so much to him, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunities he gave me and his kindness and understanding as my “boss”.

 

After seven years, the time has come for me to leave as UltiPhotos’ Managing Director. It’s bittersweet, because while the job and the company have become a part of me, I know that I’m leaving it in great hands. Katie Greener is UltiPhotos’ new Manager of Operations, and she’s the real deal. She’s excited about the work, picks everything up easily, and fits perfectly into the company. I’m so grateful UltiPhotos has her to run the ship, and Kevin and everyone else are really lucky to have her.

 

If you’re still with me, I’d like to encourage you to please support UltiPhotos however you can during these tough times. Our revenues have been slashed to nearly nothing in a time that is usually our busiest. We’ve all been hard at work putting together new projects to generate sales and support the community while we’re all separated. You can check out Kevin’s blog for some ideas on how to help, or our latest newsletter for some of the latest projects we’ve come up with. If you can’t support us financially (which we of course understand!), please share with your friends and family how they can support us.

 

Oh, one more thing – I still hope to shoot ultimate for UltiPhotos in the future, schedule permitting. So, I’ll see y’all on the fields.

 

Jolie

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2020/5/last-day Fri, 22 May 2020 16:04:47 GMT
The Impact of COVID-19 on UltiPhotos - A Message from the Founder https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2020/3/covid19 Lei Out 2019Lei Out 2019Huntington Beach, CA: Pool play from Lei Out on January 19, 2019. ©2019 Rodney Chen for UltiPhotos.com.

I hope that this finds you and your families healthy, safe, and doing what you can to help keep those around you healthy.

The stark reality of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it impacts every aspect of our community.  UltiPhotos is no exception.  Ultimate is still a relatively small market and photography is one of the smallest niches within the Ultimate economy.  The vast majority of our revenues are event-driven, whether it's getting hired to cover an event or photo sales after the event.  As such, it's a very seasonal business.  By the beginning of March, we are just climbing out of our cash trough from the lean winter months when few tournaments are held.  Spring college and high school seasons are when UltiPhotos earns much of the money necessary to operate year-round.  To have all events canceled or postponed at this time is crushing to our business and impacts our photographers’ income.  Although many of our photographers have other non-photography jobs, some are full time photographers seeing cancellations across all sports, as well as weddings and other events.

I want to thank everyone who has spoken up for photographers as an impacted group.  Our hearts are going out to the Ultimate community who are also impacted, including:

  • all of those who are battling coronavirus for themselves or a loved one

  • all the health care workers on the front lines in hospitals

  • all the players, coaches, and teams whose seasons are in limbo or suffered an abrupt end after training, practicing, and spending on gear, travel, and the like

  • all the event organizers who have invested time and money to put on the perfect tournament only to have to cancel and refund

  • all the vendors who are facing uncertain times as team and event sales evaporate while seasons are on hold

  • all the investors in the pro leagues who believe in the breakout potential of our sport only to have to put the realization of those dreams on hiatus

  • our fellow brethren in Ultimate media who have to make up content on the fly

  • and, of course, everyone else who derives enjoyment or employment thanks to this great sport

While times are tough and people are isolated and separated from playing the sport they love, UltiPhotos is going to make some lemonade out of this truckload of lemons.  We're diving into the archives to make new highlights collections and feature throwback galleries to distract and remind you of better Ultimate times -- Check out our social media to find these projects under the hashtag #TheUltimateDistraction.  We're also going to start working on an ambitious project to bring entire generations of historical photo galleries to our website.

As a business, UltiPhotos is committed to the long term and we will be there on the other side.  But it will be tough economically for our small business and the photographers we count on. In our 12-year history, we've never asked for donations, as we always seek to deliver a valuable service or product for your hard-earned money.  In this current environment, though, we need your help.

If you are interested and able to help at this time, whether you are a player, fan, organizer, or vendor, here are ten ways that can make a difference for UltiPhotos during this time without Ultimate.
 

  1. Browse our archives and order those favorite photos that you've never gotten around to purchasing.

  2. Upsize your digital downloads to high res or full size.  More pixels = higher quality and it is a wonderful way to "tip" the photographer.

  3. Hire UltiPhotos for a future event and prepay.  In the event of postponement or cancellation, your payment is good as a credit for your next UltiPhotos covered event or it will be refunded.

  4. Sponsor our #TheUltimateDistraction post of the day and help us cover our operating costs while bringing great content from the archives to the Ultimate community.

  5. Contribute to our soon to be announced Ultimate Photos Archive project with contacts, photos, or funding to bring the best Ultimate photography of the 2000s, '90s, and earlier to life in our archives.

  6. Buy a gift certificate for your favorite Ultimate athlete to enable them to get some great photo memories to help motivate them through this difficult time.

  7. Support and encourage Ultimate photographers who aren't able to practice their craft during this downtime, either privately or publicly on social media.

  8. Bring your photo merchandise idea to UltiPhotos and help us make a product out of it.  Calendars, posters, books, you name it.

  9. Bring your other sponsorship ideas to UltiPhotos.  Want to underwrite a special highlights collection of your favorite team or your favorite tournament?

  10. Share this message with others so they know how they can support UltiPhotos.

 
Thanks again for your support.
 
Kevin Leclaire
Founder, UltiPhotos

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) covid19 founder support https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2020/3/covid19 Thu, 19 Mar 2020 20:50:47 GMT
Thanks, Leclaire https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2018/10/thanks-leclaire Kevin Leclaire, Ultimate PhotographerKevin Leclaire, Ultimate PhotographerCovering YULA in 2015.

In a land long, long ago when film was all there was and before UltiPhotos was a glint in anyone’s eye, there was Rick Collins.  He sat on a milk crate at the edge of the fields and blew everyone away with how good his photos were.  Every year he made a calendar to support his habit, and they were glorious.

 

Then there was Bil Elsinger, who attached an umbrella to his stick when it rained and did a slideshow for the parties at Potlatch, Andrew Davis, who loved Superfly, the kind and talented Matt Lane.  Chasing Plastic was the only print outlet so it was a labor of love to shoot ultimate, and it was expensive.  If you got a sandwich or a t-shirt it was a really good day.

 

Canadian Ultimate was the first to cover travel expenses, USAU and WFDF followed suit a few years later.

 

Neil Gardner came from New Zealand and brightened every field, Hart Matthews brought his media outlet experience.  Rick vanished, Bil left for law school, Andrew and Matt married their loves and the wheel went around.  I was about done myself, and in that vacuum appeared Kevin Leclaire and his brainchild, UltiPhotos.

 

His idea of collecting and organizing photographers, arranging for sensible compensation and handling all those tricky details was something I’d dreamt of for years.  When I finally talked to him I told him how I’d been chanting like a mantra that what we needed was someone with a degree from Harvard to pull this thing together.  His answer?  “Well, actually. . . .”

 

He has a degree from Harvard.

 

Thanks, Leclaire.

 

 - Scobel Wiggins

 

#UltiPhotos10yrs

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) anniversary kevin leclaire scobel wiggins ultiphotos10yrs https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2018/10/thanks-leclaire Mon, 08 Oct 2018 15:23:35 GMT
Behind the Camera: 2016 Year in Review, Part 2 https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2017/1/behind-the-camera-2016-year-in-review-part-2 Throughout 2016 you've seen our photographers' work, from the smallest college tourney to the biggest World Championship. You've seen the skies and the layouts, celebrations and defeat. But what you haven't heard yet are the stories behind the camera. Here, a few photographers reflect on their favorite photos, moments, and tourneys to give you a glimpse past the photographs you've known and loved this year. Check out Part 1 here!

 

Last summer, I was lucky enough to provide official event photography for the World Ultimate and Guts Championships (WUGC) in London. The greatest ultimate players in the world from 38 different countries facing off against each other, and I get a front row seat to all of it? Heck yeah, I’m excited.

So here it was--the last round of day four. Teams were well into power pools; tomorrow was quarter-finals day for most divisions. My feet were aching from hustling all over the sprawling field site. My back and shoulders were aching from my camera harness. I was hungry, exhausted, and getting a little tired of watching the disc get passed around. (A solid week of shooting ultimate, interspersed with brief breaks for Clif bars and sunscreen, is bound to have its ups and downs.)

I looked out across the nearby group of fields, trying to identify the teams playing there, when one field caught my eye. I didn’t recognize either of those jerseys. I hadn’t seen either of those teams once this week. Curious, I wandered over, and found Korea Mixed playing Norway Mixed. Two countries that only sent one team each to WUGC.

Finding that game brought my mood right back up. The Norwegian fans were cheering in Viking helmets, holding an enormous flag between them. The Korean team on my sideline chatted and joked with me. The game was intense, but the spirit was high. This was why I was here: to cover match-ups I wouldn’t see anywhere else, and to see how ultimate is a universal language. - Jolie J Lang

Power Pools - WUGC 2016Power Pools - WUGC 2016ST ALBANS, ENGLAND: Korea Mixed vs Norway Mixed - Power Pools - World Ultimate and Guts Championships. June 22, 2016. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos

Power Pools - WUGC 2016Power Pools - WUGC 2016ST ALBANS, ENGLAND: Korea Mixed vs Norway Mixed - Power Pools - World Ultimate and Guts Championships. June 22, 2016. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos

 

US Open 2016 - Women's SemifinalsUS Open 2016 - Women's SemifinalsKingston, RI: Shira Stern (Riot #10) beats Sam Peletier (Molly Brown #2) to the disc. Action from Semifinal Sunday at the USA Ultimate US Open Championships, July 3, 2016. (c) Burt Granofsky/UltiPhotos

 

You just have a feeling about some games.

The 2016 US Open semifinal between Riot and Molly Brown did not disappoint. Two big name teams with multiple all-star, all-world, all-everything players facing off in front of a large crowd. Highlights were just waiting to be made. And most of the time, the players made them. Whether it was Jaclyn Verzuh ripping the disc out of the sky or Claire Chastain making another huge bid, every player seemed locked in from the opening pull.

In big games like this I’m always looking for two kinds of pictures: action photos that document what happened, and emotion shots that reveal what these games mean to the players on the field. On a good day, I’ll get a few of each kind that I think tell the story of the game.

One of my favorite action shots was of Riot’s Shira Stern just beating Sam Peletier to the disc. The grab happened late in the game with Riot down and needing to score to keep pace with Molly Brown. A few minutes later, Riot would score and then quickly break Molly Brown to score a come-from-behind victory. I like this picture because it sums up the intensity (and, ultimately, the story) of the game.

But one of my favorite emotion shots from the whole tournament also came from this game: Opi Payne and Lisa Pitcaithley celebrating, mid-air, after a Molly Brown score. It didn’t matter that, in the end, they wouldn’t play in the finals. In this moment, they were unsinkable. - Burt Granofsky

US Open 2016 - Women's SemifinalsUS Open 2016 - Women's SemifinalsKingston, RI: Octavia Payne (Molly Brown #9) and Lisa Pitcaithley (Molly Brown #26) celebrate after a score. Action from Semifinal Sunday at the USA Ultimate US Open Championships, July 3, 2016. (c) Burt Granofsky/UltiPhotos

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) 2016 behind the camera catching the moment centex college conrad stoll d1 greatest layout paul rutherford usau year in review https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2017/1/behind-the-camera-2016-year-in-review-part-2 Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:15:47 GMT
Behind the Camera: 2016 Year in Review, Part 1 https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2017/1/behind-the-camera-2016-year-in-review-part-1 Throughout 2016 you've seen our photographers' work, from the smallest college tourney to the biggest World Championship. You've seen the skies and the layouts, celebrations and defeat. But what you haven't heard yet are the stories behind the camera. Here, a few photographers reflect on their favorite photos, moments, and tourneys to give you a glimpse past the photographs you've known and loved this year. Keep an eye out for Part 2!

Sunday bracket play at Women's College Centex 2016. Sunday bracket play at Women's College Centex 2016. Sunday bracket play at Women's College Centex 2016. Sunday bracket play at Women's College Centex 2016.

 

There’s been crazy weather at Women’s Centex before, but the incredible wind storm of 2016 might take the cake. It’s hard to play in the wind! The games were low scoring and long. 

In the finals, Texas was playing Michigan and the teams were trading points. I was following the action from the Texas sideline, close to the endzone. Texas was moving the disc well when a player put up a long throw towards the endzone. The disc started to cross the goal line, but it hung high and started angling out of bounds.

I saw what was happening and started to follow Texas’ Dre Esparza as she ran towards the corner and jumped from inbounds to bat the disc back into play. Two Michigan defenders couldn’t recover in time and the disc sailed over their heads and into the waiting arms of Julia Schmaltz, who secured the catch.

It was awesome to witness a Greatest happen just feet in front of me, knowing before I looked at my camera that I’d captured it. All the other Texas players and fans were screaming around me in excitement. It was a great moment and a fun way to cap off the tournament. Texas went on to win their first Women’s Centex in 13 years of hosting the tournament. - Conrad Stoll

 

Action from USAU College Division 1 NationalsAction from USAU College Division 1 NationalsVeronica Cruz (Stanford University #2) makes the game winning catch during the semifinal game between University of Oregon and Stanford University at the USAU Division 1 Nationals in Raleigh, NC on May 29th. © Paul Rutherford / UltiPhotos

I photographed three USA Ultimate Championship events last year—Beach, College D1, and Club Championships. Each one had their great moments and allure.

Is it possible not to have fun playing ultimate on the beach?  In Virginia Beach, the weather was beautiful, the play was outstanding, and I even got to stay with my Grandma! The Club Championships proved to be even more exhilarating. Being from Boston, not only was I able to see all three local teams capture a championship, but I was also able to take photos of many of my friends celebrating their victories.

The College D1 championships was a lesson in grueling heat, unpredictable weather, and emotion.  The emotion is there every play because only one team gets to finish on top. All the others see their seasons come to an end. 

This photo is from one of the women’s semifinal game between Stanford and Oregon. I've always heard that the best photos can sum up a game in one image. I think this is the first time I've been lucky enough to capture that moment. The intensity of the game, the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat all come through in the game winning goal. Stanford would go on to win in it all. 

Thanks to everyone I've photographed because these photos wouldn't be possible without you! - Paul Rutherford

 

 

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) 2016 behind the camera catching the moment centex college conrad stoll d1 greatest layout paul rutherford usau year in review https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2017/1/behind-the-camera-2016-year-in-review-part-1 Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:51:09 GMT
Behind the Camera: 2015 Year in Review https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review Over the course of a year, some of our photographers cover a variety of events across the country - and sometimes the world - while others may only cover one. We all do it for the love of the sport, and it only takes one single moment to remind us of that. A few of us took a look through our 2015 coverage and picked out a single moment, photograph or feeling that stood out, and recorded our thoughts below. We hope you've enjoyed our 2015 coverage, and we're looking forward to seeing you in 2016!

 

Corvallis, OR: Franklin High School (Quakers). USA Ultimate 2015 Western High School Regional Championships. May 30, 2015. © John King / for UltiPhotos.com.

I was excited to shoot my first HS Westerns tournament. It's about 30 minutes before the first round is set to begin, and I've just jumped off the back of a golf cart that gave me a ride in. I get less than 10 steps from the road and pull out my camera to take a couple test shots when I see a girl's team (Franklin High School) cheering in a pre-game huddle. Just as I squeeze the shutter, the girl leading the cheer stands up in the middle and I get this shot, which really captures the enthusiasm these kids have for the sport. I would shoot for the next two days on that field, but that first shot remains my favorite. -John King

Ultimate tournaments in Arizona tend to get a bit wacky, especially as the temperature starts climbing above 100 degrees. UltiFest, which is held in the cool mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona, is just one of the few costumed tourneys I get to shoot here. I know the extent of these great athletes' abilities when dressing up is not part of the fun, yet I still marvel at how they can perform at such a high level in full costume. This photo reminds me and other fans that the fun and spirit of Ultimate is forever blended with its extreme competitive nature. - Alex Rentzis

Ultifest Flagstaff, AZ Oct 11, 2015Ultifest Flagstaff, AZ Oct 11, 2015
USAU Club Nationals 2015USAU Club Nationals 2015Frisco, TX: Revolver celebrates winning the men's final at the 2015 USAU Club Championships

2015 turned out to be a very busy and exciting year for me as an Ultimate photographer. I wanted to get out there, get involved and shoot more than I had the previous year, and I did just that. Over the course of the year, I covered multiple college and club tournaments and became an Official UltiPhotos Photographer. But even with some MLU & beach action mixed in, one tournament really stands out to me.

2015 Club Nationals. As a last minute addition to the team, this tournament almost didn't even happen for me. It was overwhelming at first, especially since I'd never shot a tournament this scale before. Four days in Texas, three competitive divisions, 48 teams.

When the time came, all I had to do was slow myself down and to tell myself that it was just like shooting any other game or tournament. The skill level would just be higher, making it even more exciting to shoot. It's hard to pick just one photo to sum up this experience. I chose this shot because it shows that emotional release after four days of competing for a National Championship and coming out on top. I have set my goals for 2016 and, man, this year has a lot to live up to. - Paul Andris

Traffic_Allstars_20150728202703_JBP0020Traffic_Allstars_20150728202703_JBP0020All Star Ultimate Tour visits Traffic Ultimate for an exhibition game in Vancouver BC, Canada. July 28, 2015 ©2015 Jeff Bell Photo. All Rights Reserved.

One of the biggest stories in Ultimate in 2015 was surely the All-Star Ultimate Tour in the summer. Qxhna Titcomb’s brainchild was well-received during its fundraising phase and there was loads of hype and buzz online, but I had no idea what to expect once it was rolling; I just knew I wanted to shoot it! 

I’ve been so impressed with the growth and success of Traffic Ultimate and the local university women’s teams, UBC and UVIC, in recent years. I was really excited to get to photograph our hometown teams against some of the best athletes from the US. When it was announced that UVIC star Kate Scarth was going to play for the All-Stars, there was even more to look forward to.

The venue was Winona Park, a regular league field with a lovely slope for the fans to sit on and take in the action. What it lacked in grandeur it made up for in nostalgia and charm. The weather cooperated and the fans came out. All we needed was a good game, which we got with the local team taking down the world-class talents on the ASUT, 15 -10. 

There are few chances to shoot top level women’s competition outside of National and World competitions, especially in my own backyard. I greatly appreciated the opportunity that the ASUT offered and I hope that there are more events like it coming up to showcase these amazing athletes. - Jeff Bell

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) 2015 behind the camera catching the moment year in review https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2016/1/2015-year-in-review Fri, 15 Jan 2016 20:49:37 GMT
Behind the Camera: Arizona Madness by Alex Rentzis https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/11/arizona-madness

The Autumn season is finally upon us, and with the temperatures finally falling below 90 degrees, we Arizonans have many things to look forward to. These include wearing long pants again, enjoying cool water from the cold water tap, and playing Ultimate without the risk of disc melt. All right, I admit a bit of an exaggeration on the melting of our beloved plastic, but this is a good time to reflect on my experience photographing the Arizona Mixed Madness Tournament this past summer in Phoenix.

 

The August heat in Phoenix feels like the blast you get when you open your oven to check on your Thanksgiving turkey. The AZ Mixed Madness tournament is an annual experience in Phoenix. Most of Arizona’s club teams were represented this year, except our friends from the cool pine country of the northern part of the state.  With club names like Del Sol and Ozone the stage was set for Ultimate Arizona Summer style.

AZ Mixed Madness 2015AZ Mixed Madness 2015AZ Mixed Madness held in Phoenix, Arizona August 16, 2015 Temp - Sunny and 110 F

Arizona Mixed Madness: Sunny and 110 F

AZ Mixed Madness 2015AZ Mixed Madness 2015AZ Mixed Madness held in Phoenix, Arizona August 16, 2015 Temp - Sunny and 110 F

August skies blanket great Ultimate in Arizona

Throughout the day, my camera and I witnessed great athletes diving and leaping for the disc while artificial field temperatures reached 150 degrees.  Staying focused and cool while capturing the action was a photographic challenge that was new to me. Last year's tournament was rained out by the annual monsoon that rolls into Arizona. This year's heat was more typical and by midday I had noticed that my camera was feeling like a hot iron being placed next to my face.  Any non-rubber surface on the camera was off limits to the touch. The screen on the back of my Canon 7D Mark II was so hot that it was burning my nose, making it uncomfortable to keep my camera on the action for long points. Eyes burning from stinging sweat made looking through the viewfinder unbearable at times. My battery life was also a victim to the sun god and I was starting think that maybe oven mitts should be a future member of my camera kit.

I came close a few times to packing it in for the day and heading for my favorite cantina. After all, this was a tournament that I shot pro bono! Drawing inspiration from watching these great athletes I was able to put my mental and physical fatigue on the shelf.  I continued putting up with my overheating camera equipment to record an amazing day. A day and tournament that was truly for the love of Ultimate and the camaraderie of close friends. I was inspired by athletic performances in the harshest of conditions and in the end was I relieved that I had captured some images worthy of a great Ultimate day.

AZ Mixed Madness 2015AZ Mixed Madness 2015AZ Mixed Madness held in Phoenix, Arizona August 16, 2015 Temp - Sunny and 110 F

As the day ended, sprinklers were a welcome reward

 

 

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) arizona arizona mixed madness behind the camera braving the elements heat mixed mixed madness https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/11/arizona-madness Mon, 02 Nov 2015 17:41:50 GMT
Behind the Camera: Thoughts on WU23s by Jolie J Lang https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/8/wu23 Last year when I came home from Italy, I told myself I would not be leaving the country again for a long time, especially not for work. I know what you’re thinking: What an idiot. Who doesn’t want to travel abroad, especially when it’s for something as cool as photographing Ultimate?

The short answer is that I find traveling by airplane to be very stressful, and being in a country I’m not geographically familiar with even more so. I'd much rather drive across the country in my old, beat-up car to cover a tourney. But when I heard about the possibility to head to London for the World U-23 Ultimate Championships this year, I immediately changed my mind.

 

Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game -Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game -LONDON, ENGLAND: Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game - World U23 Ultimate Championships. July 12, 2015. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos

All of the teams filled the stands to watch the opening showcase game between the USA and Great Britain Open teams.

 

I knew this tournament would be an altogether different experience from WUCC. Something really special happens when you bring together young, mega-talented Ultimate players to represent their countries in a week-long World Championship. From the minute the opening ceremonies kicked off, I was certain I’d made a great choice to be there.

 

Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game -Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game -LONDON, ENGLAND: Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game - World U23 Ultimate Championships. July 12, 2015. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos

Teams mingled prior to the parade of flags.

 

The energy was electric before the parade of flags. Each country had gathered its teams together, and soon players were mingling with other teams, taking selfies, having dance battles and cheering each other on. No one seemed hesitant to join complete strangers in the festivities, perhaps because a lot of these players had only recently met their own teammates. While the photos came very easily, I think it's impossible to capture exactly how it felt to be there at that moment. 

 

Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game -Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game -LONDON, ENGLAND: Opening Ceremonies and USA vs Great Britain Open Showcase Game - World U23 Ultimate Championships. July 12, 2015. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos

Spirit circle following the opening showcase game between the USA and Great Britain Open teams.

 

Throughout the week, I saw unprecedented levels of spirit, respect for other teams and countries, and national pride. I also saw some outrageous athleticism that made me reflect on the fact that every single player there was younger than me. (Man, do I feel inadequate. I’m just trying to win my Summer League.*) Ultimate is getting bigger, the talent pool is expanding, and SOTG is as strong as it ever was. WU23UC was such an inspiring tourney to cover, and I can’t wait to get back on a plane for it in two years.

 

*Editors Note: We lost.

 
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera london sotg spirit u23 under-23 worlds wu23 wu23uc https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/8/wu23 Mon, 10 Aug 2015 16:27:47 GMT
Behind the Camera: Teamwork by Brian Canniff https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/7/behind-the-camera-teamwork We had a strong team out at the Spinners vs Current MLU game on June 20.

Sean Carpenter and I were handling co-primary duty for the evening, meaning that we were responsible for getting some required shots for the league. Two other UltiPhotos shooters--Paul Andris and Jolie Lang (who is Operations Manager and, basically, our boss)--were also there to shoot and try out some new gear.

Sean and I always touch base before, during, and after the game to make sure that we’ve got the shots we need.

DC Current @ PHL Spinners - MLU - 6/20/15DC Current @ PHL Spinners - MLU - 6/20/15FORT WASHINGTON, PA: Philadelphia Spinners family for the flip at the Major League Ultimate (MLU) game between the DC Current and the Philadelphia Spinners on Saturday, June 20, 2015.
Members of the Philadelphia Spinners family pose with referees before the game.
 
Pregame, I lined up a shot of honored fans and refs preparing for the flip. After I got what I wanted, my friend, a ref, heckled me about missing what would have been a great shot behind me.
 
I knew I could let the team circle go in favor of my shot, because I had seen Sean lining up one of my favorite pictures of the day.
 
MLU Current vs. SpinnersMLU Current vs. SpinnersFORT WASHINGTON, PA: The teams circle before the Major League Ultimate (MLU) game between the Philadelphia Spinners and DC Current, Saturday June 20, 2015.
A pregame huddle between the teams was a nice show of sportsmanship.
 
On this next shot, I did not have time to get the framing I wanted.  Dustin Damiano ran over for a quick hug with his parents, who were being recognized as Spinners’ Fans of the Year.  I ran over to them and asked them to quickly turn around so I could get the crowd behind them. I noticed that Sean was close by, and he was able to get a clean shot of the group. Teamwork.
 
MLU Current vs. SpinnersMLU Current vs. SpinnersFORT WASHINGTON, PA: Dustin Damiano (Philadelphia Spinners #4) with the Spinners Fans of the Year at the Major League Ultimate (MLU) game between the Philadelphia Spinners and DC Current, Saturday June 20, 2015.
Fans of the Year with their favorite player.
 

As we were packing up, I saw this nice line with Jeff Snader, the Commissioner of the MLU. I didn’t have the reach to get the shot I wanted, but Paul Andris still had his new crop-sensor camera with a big lens on it. He snapped this picture just before Jeff turned away from us and handed off the little one. Paul’s shot turned out to be even better than what I had in mind. I love the profiles.

Philadelphia Spinners vs. DC Current 6/20/2015Philadelphia Spinners vs. DC Current 6/20/2015FORT WASHINGTON, PA: Commissioner Jeffrey Snader at the Major League Ultimate (MLU) game between the Philadelphia Spinners and DC Current, Saturday June 20, 2015.

The Commissioner holds a future MLU star.

 

Of course we shot action, too. At one point Jolie and I were both shooting fixed 300mm lenses from the same side of the field--and we were both clicking away as the Spinners’ Michael Panna was fouled by an opponent. We both got decent shots. But Jolie was a little lower and closer to the play, and her shot of Michael’s fall was great, and better than mine.

The Spinners' Michael Panna keeps his eye on the disc.
 

As I go through our team’s full coverage from the game, I am happy to see others get shots and angles I missed. Trey Katzenbach scored late on a short pass. I was cross-field and blocked from the shot; Sean got it. Delrico Johnson scored a few times, too. I missed some of those shots, but my teammates got them.

Having solid, reliable teammates grants you the freedom to look for additional shots and angles that you might not ordinarily consider. And it also gives you the confidence that someone will get the shot, even if it’s not always you.

So how does that help the solo shooter? Be your own teammate. Take a deep breath and work on an angle or a new type of shot for a few points. It could be a panning shot, a funky wide angle look, or a new technique for shooting in the rain. You’ll have plenty of time to get back into whatever your primary shooting mode might be.
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera current dc current mlu philadelphia spinners spinners team teamwork https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/7/behind-the-camera-teamwork Thu, 09 Jul 2015 14:07:24 GMT
Behind the Camera: Playing For a Cause by Burt Granofsky https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/3/playing-for-a-cause Up here in the Northeast, February's unrelenting snow has thrown a wrench into everyone's preseason plans. Even now, a couple weeks into spring, most fields remain unplayable--but everyone is itching for ultimate. Indoor charity hat tournament, anyone?

Seven on the Green Line -- 2015Seven on the Green Line -- 2015Action from the Seven on the Green Line charity hat tournament, held February 28, 2015, in Bedford, MA.

Great crowd for a great cause.

 

For many of us, Seven on the Green Line came at the right time. The tournament provided an evening of indoor ultimate that allowed players to shake off the winter cobwebs. And it was all for a good cause, too--the event raised money and collected cans for the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, which helps to fight food insecurity in many Massachusetts communities. 

 

Games were timed, 5 on 5, and continuous. Competitiveness took a back seat to fun. Naturally, a lot of people left a lot of skin on the turf--including myself (from playing, not from shooting).

Seven on the Green Line -- 2015Seven on the Green Line -- 2015Action from the Seven on the Green Line charity hat tournament, held February 28, 2015, in Bedford, MA.

Everyone was happy when Walfield (in green hat) finally got to play a few points.

 

This was the fourth installment of the Seven on the Green Line series. The event began in 2013 as a fundraiser for one family affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. The turnout was so good at that initial tournament that organizer Scott Walfield, who teaches at University of Massachusetts Lowell, decided to plan more in order to support other local causes and charities. (Other beneficiaries have included a domestic violence shelter and a program that serves at-risk youth.) Walfield is already beginning to plan the fifth tournament in the series, which will support Toys for Tots. In all, the series has raised over $11,000 for these charities.

Seven on the Green Line -- 2015Seven on the Green Line -- 2015Action from the Seven on the Green Line charity hat tournament, held February 28, 2015, in Bedford, MA.

Some competitive action on the field.

It was great to see such a big turnout for this event. I think these small, charity tourneys exemplify the spirit of ultimate, even if they are often overshadowed by the legitimately big, competitive ones that grab most headlines on SKYD and Ultiworld. It seems unique to ultimate that, one weekend, you may be watching a player compete at the highest levels of the sport, and the next weekend, he or she is playing next to you in a hat tournament.

 

After five hours of ultimate, Team Saturn was declared the victor, and everybody bundled up to trudge back out into the cold. It was a fun night--almost enough to make you forget that there was 2 feet of snow on the ground. Almost.

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera charity fun hat indoor seven on the green line https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/3/playing-for-a-cause Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:33:44 GMT
Lei Out by Daniel Thai https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/2/lei-out When the calendar flips from one year to the next, the thought of January often brings to mind cold, dreary days spent inside with a warm beverage. For me, however, January brings anticipation for the sun and sand of southern California. After New Year’s, all I can think about is Lei-Out.

Lei-Out is a beach tournament that offers a respite from the winter for many. This year, the tournament brought 276 teams and 3,000 players from across the country to almost 2 miles of Santa Monica beach. It’s an amazing sight to see the rows of fields and flying discs with the famous Santa Monica Pier as a backdrop.

For me, Lei-Out is special because I get to play with many of my college friends. This was only my second Lei-Out, but our team, Beaches ‘n’ Cream, has been attending since 2011. It’s hard to coordinate schedules and find a convenient reunion location for so many people, so we use the tournament as a solid date around which we can all plan. What better place than the beach to make new memories with old friends?

 

Lei Out 2015 - Saturday PlayLei Out 2015 - Saturday PlaySANTA MONICA, CA - Christo Ferguson throws a backhand during Saturday play of Lei Out 2015. / Daniel Thai for Ultiphotos.

It's always nice to spend some time in the sun with Beaches 'n' Cream.

 

Last year I came only to play, but in the past year, I’ve focused on improving my ultimate photography. Consequently, I debated whether to bring my camera gear. On one hand, Lei-Out could provide the challenge of shooting on a new terrain as well as documenting a memorable weekend with my friends. On the other hand, I tend to forget about shooting when I’m playing and goofing off, which means I would be carrying a heavy bag across the sand for naught.

I compromised, bringing my camera but only arming it with a 28-135mm f/4-5.6 -- not generally my action lens of choice. I chose this set up for two reasons. First was convenience. I didn’t want to expose a lot of gear in the sand after possibly (read: most probably) having a few adult beverages throughout the weekend. Second was the fact that I wasn’t planning any serious coverage. I just wanted to have a versatile lens to capture some casual snapshots of my friends during a special weekend.

Throughout the weekend, I had gotten a handful of photos of Beaches ‘n’ Cream. Not spectacular coverage by any means, but more than adequate enough to catch some nice action and remember good times. After we were finished playing on Sunday afternoon, we headed to the showcase fields to enjoy the last remnants of sun and beach before we had to head back to our respective non-beach homes.

 

  2015 Lei-Out Finals2015 Lei-Out FinalsSANTA MONICA, CA: Finals of Lei-Out 2015. January 18, 2015. © Daniel Thai for UltiPhotos

The flying sand and spectator reactions added an extra dimension to the action.

 

We were treated to an exciting finale between the USA Mixed and Mixed Masters teams, and, of course, my photographer’s instincts kicked in and I watched the game mostly through my lens. The action was great (as was the impromptu Taylor Swift dance party during halftime), and I actually liked being limited to more depth of field (compared to when I routinely shoot wide open at f/2.8) in these photos. The spectators surrounded the field right on the sidelines, and having them in slight focus seemed to help add to the atmosphere. Their reactions as players laid out and skyed added another layer of treats in some shots.

 

\ 2015 Lei-Out Finals2015 Lei-Out FinalsSANTA MONICA, CA: Finals of Lei-Out 2015. January 18, 2015. © Daniel Thai for UltiPhotos

The beachside cliffs served as a nice, clean background for intense aerial action during the finals.

 

For Lei-Out 2015, I had planned for another raucous weekend with old friends. We successfully accomplished that point, but in the end I also found a laid-back opportunity to continue improving my photography. 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) beach behind the camera lei out https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/2/lei-out Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:00:00 GMT
Behind the Camera: Out in the Cold by Sandy Canetti https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/1/behind-the-camera-out-in-the-cold With the Major League Ultimate season set to start at the end of April, the eight teams have begun the process of holding tryouts to build their squads.  What makes the process challenging is the fact that in order to have squads in place for the start of the season, tryouts take place during the heart of the winter. For the Eastern Conference teams, subfreezing temperatures and the threat of snow can create quite a challenge. In most cases, tryouts can be held at indoor sports facilities. But in New York, the availability of indoor fields is low while their pricing is prohibitively high, leaving the teams no other choice than to hold tryouts outdoors.

 

New York Rumble Tryout 1/11/15New York Rumble Tryout 1/11/15New York, New York: Coverage of the third New York Rumble tryout for the 2015 season on January 11, 2015.

Ryan MacFadyen heads into the snow on a missed layout attempt

 

The New York Rumble held two open tryouts in December and then two invite-only tryouts in January. I attended three of the four. I am not a fan of cold weather to begin with, so I was wondering what I was doing on Randall's Island on a cold Saturday in January when I could have been indoors watching my Tottenham Hotspurs take on Sunderland in the comfort of my own home. It had snowed recently in New York and there was still snow on the ground, although the site was clear enough to be able to lay out an MLU-sized field for the scrimmage.  By the second tryout on January 17, the snow had all but disappeared despite the fact that the temperatures had not climbed above thirty all week.

 

New York Rumble Tryout 1/11/15New York Rumble Tryout 1/11/15New York, New York: Coverage of the third New York Rumble tryout for the 2015 season on January 11, 2015.

Peter Kalmakis, marked by Isaac Saul, throws a forehand to Albert Alarcon

 

Modern science and the advance of weather protective materials have come a long way in helping protect athletes from adverse weather conditions, while not over encumbering them in their movement. But cold is still cold. And for a photographer the weather creates all sorts of challenges.  So here I was, ready to shoot the tryouts wearing three layers of Uniqlo and Under Armor under my winter coat. I had thin gloved fingers sticking out of my finger-less mittens. (I had a tried pair of touchscreen gloves, but found them too thick to properly handle the controls of my Canon 7D.)  I also had a balaclava to keep my head warm. I was definitely not a candidate for GQ, but I believe in function over fashion. The weather during the second tryout was surprising more comfortable despite the fact that temperatures were in the twenties. (The sun was out most of the day and there was no wind--this made a huge difference.)

 

New York Rumble Tryout 1/17/15New York Rumble Tryout 1/17/15New York, New York: Coverage of the fourth and final New York Rumble tryout for the 2015 season on January 17, 2015.

Austin Bonelli get the D on Ryan MacFadyen

 

Shooting tryouts offers a number of opportunities to tell a complete story. While most of the action comes during the scrimmages, warm-ups and drills offer a chance to add different types of editorial images to the coverage. Of course in the cold and snow, you have even more opportunities to tell a story--the challenge is keeping your mind (and body) focused enough to capture those shots. I love the winter sun. You get great shadows in the afternoon, and cloudy days create a softer, even light, with low contrast. The light is beautiful and soft, as opposed to the harsh midday light of summer.

The tryout process is over now, at least for the Rumble, and I look forward to the start of the season. Hopefully I will have thawed out by then.

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera cold layout mlu new york ny rumble rumble winter https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/1/behind-the-camera-out-in-the-cold Wed, 04 Feb 2015 16:00:00 GMT
Behind the Camera: 2014 Year in Review (Part 2) https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/1/2014-year-in-review-2 2014 was a banner year for UltiPhotos, with our 30+ photographers covering over 70 events including WUCC, WJUC, National Championships at every level, and two different youth ultimate camps, CUT and NUTC! Our Behind the Camera blog has always aimed to provide a voice for our hardworking photographers who so frequently are only heard through their images. Here, several of our well-traveled photographers reflect on their favorite moments from 2014. Check here for Part 1!

USA Ultimate National Championships 2014 - Thursday HighlightsUSA Ultimate National Championships 2014 - Thursday HighlightsFRISCO, TX: Sub Zero sports some interesting apparel during pool play at the 2014 USA Ultimate National Championships. October 16, 2014. © Christina Schmidt / for UltiPhotos.com.

Christina Schmidt: It's the first day of Club Nationals, and just like the players I'm trying to find my stride.  I'm juggling my excitement to be photographing the very best of the best Ultimate players with my anxiety of capturing split second action and emotion under ever-changing conditions.  Fortunately my first two rounds of shooting are limited to single game coverage.  I push myself to shoot through my fears and that voice in my head.  By the end of round 2, I'm feeling some confidence build--which is good because I'll have to shoot two different games in round 3.  The games are on adjacent fields, but it's still a big gap and hustling between the two can make it difficult to find a rhythm to both my shooting and the games themselves.  Plus by that time of day, the light was strong and harsh.   

I start by shooting Chicago's Machine versus Portland's Rhino.  It's only the first few points of the game, and Machine has already locked up the pool for the day.  I get a few shots but there are no particularly big plays to be had.  I decide I should probably make my way over to the Truck Stop/Sub Zero game.  By this point, I had heard the social media chatter, vague though it was, about Sub Zero's interesting choice in uniform attire, but I had still not seen it in person.  I believe they had been described to me on Thursday as a mash up of yoga pants and football tights.  As I crossed the main pathway and vendor tents that divided the two fields, I got my first glorious glimpse of the form-fitting...capris?  Whatever they were, they were tight.  And they seemed all the more ridiculous contrasted by the team's penchant for Nationals-inspired mustaches.  

At that moment, Sub Zero was lined up at the southern end zone where the mid-day sun was at its harshest.  Luckily the center five of the seven on the line were relatively uniform in their spacing, as well as their steely anticipatory gazes.  I quickly snapped a photo and knew I had something remarkable--or at the very least, entertaining.  When I processed the photo later, it only made sense to use the resulting heavy contrast to my advantage and turn the photo into a black and white image.  Over the next few days, I went on to capture thousands of more images from Club Nationals--mostly action-oriented of course.  But the photo of Sub Zero on the line in those tights--it freezes in time something so truly "Ultimate" that it stands out as one of my favorite moments and shots from 2014.  Stay weird, Ultimate.

 

USAU Nationals 2014 ChampionshipsUSAU Nationals 2014 ChampionshipsUSAU Nationals 2014 Championships. Octavia Payne (Scandal, #9) gets the layout block against Becky Malinowski (Brute Squad, #13) in Women's Semifinals.

Saturday, October 18, 2014.

© 2014 Pete Guion for UltiPhotos. All rights reserved

Pete Guion: After years of shooting competitive and high-level ultimate, I finally got this one shot that’s been missing from my portfolio – Scandal’s Octavia 'Opi' Payne on a layout D.

I have no idea why I’ve never gotten a shot of her laying out before. Terrible timing, probably (oh, the number of times I’ve been asked “hey, did you get that shot on the field you weren’t looking at?” or “Did you see that one play that happened right after you walked away?”. Okay, no one actually asked those per se, but it’s pretty much what my luck is like. Eh). It’s like you shot pro baseball in the 90’s in DC and you don’t have a photo of Cal Ripken Jr. at bat – how can that actually happen??

I was so very happy that I got not one, but TWO of Opi’s layouts at 2014 Club Nationals (the one here is in their semi-final vs. Brute Squad). Now it actually feels like I’m an actual professional ultimate photographer.

Burt Granofsky: It was Sunday of Northeast Open Club Regionals, and there were stories everywhere. Would Ironside regain their place atop the region? Did Garuda have what it took to leapfrog PoNY for a nationals berth? And what would Morgan Hibbert look like in a GOAT uniform?

It was that last question that interested me the most. After years in Vancouver, Hibbert had made the trip East to join another Canadian powerhouse team. I wanted to try to tell this story by getting a shot of him making a big D, or a giant catch, or somehow leaving his impact on the game.

Problem was, I kept missing these shots, first in the Ironside vs GOAT game, and then in the second place GOAT vs PoNY game. A whole weekend behind me without the shot I was looking for. It wasn't looking good.

Then, perfect fortune. It's game point and I am on the GOAT sideline. A huck goes up, and there goes Hibbert, flying past me and into the endzone where he makes a diving catch. I'm shooting the whole time but the frames are worthless--low layouts don't all look good on camera, especially when I'm shooting from behind. Then he stands up, turns towards the sidelines, and celebrates with a yell, letting the disc drop from his hand. The new guy leading his team to Nationals. I finally had my shot! And not a moment too soon. 

USAU Northeast Open Regionals -- SundayUSAU Northeast Open Regionals -- SundayAction from USAU 2014 Northeast Regionals, held at Devens, Massachusetts.

 

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) 2014 behind the camera year in review https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/1/2014-year-in-review-2 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:00:00 GMT
Behind the Camera: 2014 Year in Review (Part 1) https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/1/2014-year-in-review-1 2014 was a banner year for UltiPhotos, with our 30+ photographers covering over 70 events including WUCC, WJUC, National Championships at every level, and two different youth ultimate camps, CUT and NUTC! Our Behind the Camera blog has always aimed to provide a voice for our hardworking photographers who so frequently are only heard through their images. Here, several of our well-traveled photographers reflect on their favorite moments from 2014. Stay tuned next week for Part 2!

Jeff Bell: There were many great moments I was fortunate to see in person in 2014: the beginning of the Vancouver Riptide franchise; seeing future stars at BC Junior Championship and Douglas Bowl; the Vancouver Nighthawks win at the Western Conference Championship game.

I got to follow the Canadian teams as they battled at WUCC.  The best stories for me were probably the Vintage Women’s Masters win and FIGJAM’s run to the Masters finals.

My favourite game and photos probably came from Traffic vs QUB in the WUCC Power Pool. National rivals in a pivotal Worlds matchup. QUB looked so hungry and Traffic looked so strong, just a highlight filled battle. Can’t wait for Canadian Nationals 2015. 

wucc2014_day5_20140806_140656_JBP01620wucc2014_day5_20140806_140656_JBP01620Ellie Hand (Traffic #8) and a QUB player bid for the disc during day 5 of the 2014 World Ultimate Club Championship in Lecco, Italy. Aug 6, 2014. Jeff Bell Photo. All Rights Reserved.

WJUC Day 4 - ThursdayWJUC Day 4 - ThursdayLECCO, ITALY: Israel U19 Open throws over the Italy U19 Open zone in quarterfinals at the 2014 World Junior Ultimate Championships. July 24, 2014. © Brandon Wu / for UltiPhotos.
 

Brandon Wu: Most sports photography is done with big telephotos to get you close to the action. But when the action is right there on the sideline in the front of you, a wider angle can give a refreshingly different sense of drama. At the World Junior Ultimate Championships, some of the showcase games were played in a gorgeous stadium in Lecco, Italy at twilight, and I really wanted to go wide to capture some of that beautiful environment.

This photo came right after Israel (throwing) took a time out against the Italian zone. I fully expected the Israeli handler to throw a swing pass back to the middle of the field, which wouldn't have made for a very good photo at all. But he immediately went for the up-line huck instead, which gave me the opportunity to grab this photo. I like the stadium in the background, the hint of blue still in the evening sky (just a few minutes later it would go totally black), and of course the bodies and faces of the thrower and the defenders. For the photography junkies this was taken at 14mm with a full-frame body - it's cropped in a little bit, but basically I was sitting right there a couple yards from the thrower, enough to give him plenty of space to pivot but still making the ultrawide lens a viable option. I'm not the only UltiPhotographer who spent some of 2014 experimenting with wide-angle lenses, and this probably wasn't the best of our wide-angle shots - but I'm pretty happy with it. 

Alex Fraser: How not to pick this kid for my favorite photo of the year? USA Ultimate did a great job at the US Open of getting ultimate in front of 8,000 potential new fans by putting a showcase game and a couple of kids skills booths in front of a crowd arriving for a soccer game. This girl hit three targets in a row, and got a brand new disc and a hat. I got the pleasure of taking a photo that will always make me smile every time I see it, and one that I hope makes others remember how happy the sport makes them.

2014 USAU US Open Friday Showcase Game2014 USAU US Open Friday Showcase GameTWIN CITIES, MN: Kids take part in USAU skills booths for prizes in front of the showcase game between Drag'n Thrust and Union at the 2014 USAU US Open. July 4, 2014. © Alex Fraser for UltiPhotos

 

 

CUT Camp Session I 2014CUT Camp Session I 2014CHICAGO, IL: Day four of Chicago Ultimate Training (CUT) Camp Session I. June 19, 2014. © Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos


 

Jolie J Lang: Prior to joining UltiPhotos, I had only been on a plane once. In 2014, I went to Chicago, Texas and Italy - my first trek outside of the US - to shoot ultimate! I'm so thankful for all of the cool places my job takes me and all of the fantastically talented and kind people I meet. 

CUT Camp was very special to me. Instead of a normal two-day tourney, I was shooting for four days straight, morning to night, covering these (ridiculously talented) youth players training harder than I ever will in 90+ degree heat. It was physically and mentally exhausting, but by the end, I didn't want to leave. 

The highlight of the camp for me was the Slip 'n Slide layout practice. The campers laid out one by one, but some of the coaches decided to go head to head. I had perched myself near the end of the slide and let the perfect layout shots come to me! If only every layout was this easy to capture. 

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) 2014 behind the camera year in review https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2015/1/2014-year-in-review-1 Thu, 15 Jan 2015 17:41:24 GMT
Behind the Camera: The Challenge of Expectation by Alex Rentzis https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2014/3/behind-the-camera-the-challenge-of-expectation It is often said be careful of what you ask for. In my case, I asked for and received the chance to shoot my first Ultimate tournament for UltiPhotos. 

The path to this assignment is long and winding, and started with me playing Ultimate in New Jersey in 1981. It continued when I picked up my first SLR camera shortly afterwards. Both the camera and Ultimate have been part of my life since then although my competitive Ultimate phase finally came to rest during the mid 1990’s. The camera, not being as demanding on my body as Ultimate, still accompanies me today. However, I quickly found out that it was my mind, not my body, that would be an issue for my first assignment.

 

New Year Ulti FestNew Year Ulti FestMy first tournament shoot often felt as frustrating as this near catch.
My first tournament shoot often felt as frustrating as this near catch.
 

The assignment I was granted was the 2014 New Year Ultimate Festival (NYF), a tournament in its 32nd year. I had been part of this great tournament in Phoenix, Arizona for the first seven years of its existence as a player. Now my point of view had changed and I would be telling a story from a photographer’s perspective.

The day of the shoot came, and for the first two hours after the curtains drew I felt like a Broadway stage actor in full costume with nothing to say. Shot after shot, miss after miss, blur after blur. This was  the lowest feeling that I had ever experienced in my photography career.

During the NYF mid-day break, I found a quiet spot to do some interrogation of my photo skills and to refocus my mind on all the tips that I had absorbed during my tourney preparation. I reviewed many of my shots and decided to try some different angles and take advantage of the beautiful Arizona scenery as a backdrop to the action. However, it was the words of a fellow photographer at NYF that gave me the real direction I was striving for.

“Alex,” he said. “You are not looking like you are having fun.”

This was my eureka moment. Was it that obvious to others? I latched on to the word “fun” and used it as my inspiration to let my artistic instincts take over. By the tournament’s end I delighted in knowing that I did receive what I had asked for!

 

New Year Ulti FestNew Year Ulti FestNew Year Ultimate Festival, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 25 2014
As ‘fun’ took over the action was there for the taking.
 

Late on Sunday, after I had published my highlights gallery, I reviewed some of the emails I had exchanged with the UltiPhotos staff in preparation for the shoot. To my amazement there was that word fun again. “Have fun during the shoot,” many of them had written.

The pressure of expectation can often overwhelm the power of instinct. My first tournament shoot will not be the last time I experience the pressure to produce top class action photos. But one thing that I will strive to keep as my ever present mantra will be the words: “If you have fun doing it the rest will follow.”

 

New Year Ulti FestNew Year Ulti FestNew Year Ultimate Festival, Phoenix, Arizona, January 26 2014
B&W takes photos to a more abstract emotional level which suits my style.

 

Alex Rentzis is a professional photographer in Arizona. NYF was his first assignment for UltiPhotos. Find more about Alex at SpartaPhoto.com.

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera club first new year fest new year ultimate fest nyf https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2014/3/behind-the-camera-the-challenge-of-expectation Tue, 11 Mar 2014 16:38:49 GMT
Behind the Camera: Light & Shadow by Marshall Goff https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/9/behind-the-camera-light-shadow Student: “Is the only good light available light?”

Legendary news photographer W. Eugene Smith: “Yes. … By which I mean, any god damn light that’s available.”

- as told in “The Moment It Clicks” by Joe McNally

 

Photography is not about light, but light is its fundamental language*. It is a key tool we can use to make photographs that are more expressive, more beautiful, and even more informative.

As sports shooters, we are driven by action first. Given a base level of technical success, capturing the peak moment trumps virtually all other considerations. But we are also visual storytellers, seeking the most photographically compelling ways to express what is in front of us.

This is especially true for me when I’m looking for the “rest of the story.” Working several MLU games this year, it was easy to make pictures that looked all of a sameness when shooting fans, stadium atmosphere, lineup announcements, or players who weren’t in flight. Paying attention to light and shadow is one way to break that rut and make a better picture.

It’s important not to seek beauty at the expense of meaning. Beautiful pictures have innate value, but in editorial work that strong graphic should elaborate the story. Here are some pictures created in those moments where I was trying to tell the story with the light I found.

*Photo nerd alert: Brooks Jensen wrote eloquently about this in his book “Single Exposures” and in his podcast, which can be found (probably unauthorizedly) here.

Boston Whitecaps vs DC Current -- Eastern Conference Finals Backlighting helped create strong graphics out of the Whitecaps lining up for the national anthem. To accentuate the long shadows, I shot with a wide lens directly into the sun.

 

Boston Whitecaps vs. DC Current Edges and transitions are interesting, whether from water, light/shadow transitions (aka, “luminance edges”), or a little bit of both. This one is created by shadow and angle, but enhanced by the good fortune of water on the ground and clouds in the sky.
 

Here's the story behind the next two shots. Misha, recovering from injury, wouldn't play in this game. But beneath the stadium, the hard light and shadows gave me an opportunity to make a strongly graphic portrait. Contrast it with the shot of Coach Jason Adams below, where shooting him in partial shadow offers a different pre-game feel. I don't know whether an editor would pick either of these shots to run with a story, but the one of Jason would be far more likely - it has a more storytelling feel, especially if there is something significant to say about the coach's position or impact on the game. In either case, being able to tell some of the behind-the-scenes stories visually can add to a photo package.

Boston Whitecaps vs DC Current -- Eastern Conference Finals

Boston Whitecaps vs DC Current -- Eastern Conference Finals

Finally, one more pairing for comparison: two pictures of the team exiting the tunnel into the stadium. While looking around before the game, I preconceived this first shot of players taken from above. Using both the light and the strong lines of the fences, I could create a composition that would set scene and be graphically dynamic. In the second picture, high, heroic front light offers rich, blue skies for background while warming and brightening Jeff Graham's exit from the tunnel during introductions. Having the crowd interaction and the coaches still behind him added layers to the shot. 

Boston Whitecaps vs. DC Current, June 29 2013. Medford, Ma. Boston Whitecaps vs DC Current -- Eastern Conference Finals

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) aesthetics behind the camera boston whitecaps catching the moment light lighting marshall goff mlu shadow https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/9/behind-the-camera-light-shadow Thu, 12 Sep 2013 16:17:13 GMT
Behind the Camera: Finding Focus at YCC by Alex Fraser https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/8/behind-the-camera-finding-focus-at-ycc I have a soft spot for the Youth Club Championships. As an ultimate player, I love watching the energy and enthusiasm that the players, coaches, and parents bring to the fields. As a coach, it’s great to watch these kids self-officiate and respect each other and the spirit of the game. As a photographer, YCC was the source of my first photos that were ever published, in 2011, and has given me some of my personal favorite shots in my UltiPhotos portfolio. With the tournament yet again in my home city of Minneapolis, and the chance to work with fellow talented UltiPhotos photographers Christina Schmidt and Nick Lindeke, I was very excited to provide coverage for UltiPhotos and USA Ultimate this past weekend.

Saturday Girls Round 3 -- YCC 2012 Colorado’s Kaci Cessna bids on defense at YCC 2012.

Still, that’s not to say that taking photos at YCC is a breeze (even beyond the fact that standing out in the sun and working for 10 hours is grueling no matter how much you love a tournament - and photographers don’t get byes!). Especially on Saturday, where the short 75 minute rounds and often disparate talent levels between teams made it challenging to provide the comprehensive coverage of ALL the teams that we strive for at UltiPhotos when we provide official tournament photography. On top of all that, I had one of those weekends where I fought my equipment and instincts, frequently finding myself reacting late to a play and/or missing focus on a crucial shot.

It’s hard to fight off frustration as a photographer in these situations, even knowing that photography is much like playing - my tens of thousands of ‘reps’ taking photos means I’m likely to recover and start getting those great shots if I just keep my focus. This is where YCC makes it easy to rally. All I needed to do was take a deep breath and look around... kids of all ages (and even some parents) playing ping pong in the Spin Ultimate merchandise tent, and Spikeball outside of it. All of the teams taking the time between rounds to cheer their opponents, and mug for team photos. I was also lucky enough to watch my girlfriend coach her first YCC team. That, coupled with the constant banter* and appreciation that the players show when we’re on the sidelines, makes it easier to keep at it.

Saturday Highlights - YCC 2013 Having fun in the merch tent, YCC 2013.

Sure enough, when I started editing my highlights on Saturday night, I was very happy with the shots I’d gotten, even knowing how many I’d missed. And even though I continued to fight my equipment on Sunday, my effort was rewarded with several shots that I’ll happily add to my UltiPhotos portfolio when I’m done editing, and what is possibly the best shot of my young career so far - a layout catch for a goal on double game point that happened mere feet in front of me. It should also be noted that the catch was disputed, and that the players for both Seattle and Boston acted admirably, and with great respect for each other considering what was at stake, and resolving this, eventually sending the disc back to be replayed. It made me proud to be a player and coach of this great sport of ours.

So thank you, YCC. Let’s do it again next year!

*Oh, and for the group of kids who asked me if I was Kevin Leclaire, I’m still not. But he does exist, I assure you.

Sunday Highlights - YCC 2013 Seattle’s Natan Lee-Engel with the highlight catch in the quarterfinals of YCC 2013.

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) alex fraser behind the camera catching the moment enthusiasm frustration layout usau ycc youth youth club championships https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/8/behind-the-camera-finding-focus-at-ycc Thu, 15 Aug 2013 14:43:13 GMT
Behind the Camera: A Love Story by Christina Schmidt https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/8/behind-the-camera-a-love-story I played my first Ultimate tournament when I was 19. I woke up at 5 A.M. on a Saturday and drove four hours to play under a sweltering Memphis sun. The fields, if you could call them that, were a patchwork quilt of scorched grass that shredded your skin when you landed and bare, rock-hard dirt that made your feet ache.

I’d picked up on an open team and didn’t find myself with the disc all that often. But I was young and ran endlessly anyway. When I did get the disc, I made short, confident work of finding a receiver with my flick. I can’t recall learning this throw, just that it clicked rapidly and when it did, that it felt like magic. By the end of the weekend I was sunburned, monstrously sore, and head over heels in love with Ultimate. That was 13 years ago, very nearly to this day.

Men's Sunday - Round 4 - Christina - Club Terminus 2013 Layouts and skys get all the love, but I have a special place in my heart for a big flick.

Since then I’ve thrown and caught discs an unfathomable number of times. But Ultimate isn’t just a sport I play; it’s a way of life. It’s given me deep, meaningful friendships, a sense of community, a feeling of purpose, and pride in my abilities.

And it’s also taken a toll. I’m reaching a point in my Ultimate career where injuries are pushing me in a direction I’ve dreaded. The time is coming to more or less hang up the cleats. It’s a tough to accept that a phase of your life is coming to a close--that something you defined your entire adult life by is no longer salient. But like I said, Ultimate’s not just a sport. And I can’t walk away from something that’s given me so much. This is where photography comes in.

Semis: UGA v. GT - Open Sun - Southeast D-I Regionals - USAU College 2013 Jojah, Georgia’s men’s team, celebrates the ecstasy of a College Nationals berth at Southeast D-I College Regionals.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve shot more than 20 tournaments in eight different states with UltiPhotos, covering middle school, masters, and everything in between. I’ve been awed by the abilities of the sport’s youngest players, as well as humbled by their spirit and sportsmanship.  I’ve felt equal parts joy and agony watching college teams achieve or fall just short of a bid to College Nationals. And at Club Nationals, I’ve witnessed the best players in the world give it their all.

As I follow all these moments with my camera, I see through the eyes of the players. I see a lot of myself reflected. I relive and re-experience the joy, the excitement, the pain, the anguish, the whole world that Ultimate has given to me. I fall in love all over again. And if I can capture any part of that experience with my photos—if I can produce a lasting reminder for players and fans of the awesomeness that is Ultimate—then I think I’ve achieved some worthy repayment to the sport (and way of life) I love.

YCC 2012 Sunday Action She can’t even vote yet, but she can get completely horizontal at YCC.
 
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera christina schmidt club terminus college regionals love passion ycc https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/8/behind-the-camera-a-love-story Fri, 09 Aug 2013 21:43:44 GMT
Behind the Camera: Wildwood by Burt Granofsky https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/8/behind-the-camera-wildwood There are tournaments. And then there is Wildwood.

 

For the uninitiated, Wildwood Beach Ultimate is the biggest such tournament in the world. This year there were an estimated 5000 players--on 450 teams!--hucking and bidding on the south Jersey shore. Wildwood is able to accommodate so many teams because the beach is gigantic; standing at the boardwalk, one can see row upon row of lined fields heading towards the surf. (Individual pictures of the beach don’t really do the sight justice. The only way to get a shot of all the fields is via helicopter, since a massive pier separates the two main playing areas.)

 

I first played Wildwood in 1999. And I've come back almost every year since, despite the horrendous traffic that any shore weekend brings. The tournament is simply too fun to miss. There's competition, sure. But there's also camaraderie--players go all out, and they pick each other up out of the sand after a bid falls just short. The whole weekend is a celebration of sand and summer and ultimate and the good life.

Wildwood 2013 -- Saturday Catches seem to hurt less than misses.
 

Wildwood is arresting from a sensory standpoint, too. All the games take place in the shadow of boardwalk attractions. So while you are watching a teammate sky for a disc, you may also hear the screams of teenagers riding a rollercoaster high above the piers, the rails going clack clack clack whoosh underneath.


And though the ultimate world descends on Wildwood for one weekend, the tournament is not the only thing happening at the beach. Regular beachgoers must wonder what they have stumbled onto as they lug their umbrellas, coolers, and kids past all of the action. (Sometimes they even stop and watch.) The boardwalk itself is where the most mingling takes place: sandy teams and ill-dressed teens each striding along the wooden boards like they own the place, sharing space at one of the 17 Hot Spot restaurants, everybody avoiding the tramcar, please.

Wildwood 2013 -- Saturday The roller coasters on Morey's Piers make for great backdrops.
 

I braved the sand and brought my camera this year. I wanted to try to capture some small corner of the scene, even though I knew I would not be able to do the full weekend justice. There's simply too much to cover--the craziness of team registration at the Bolero on Friday night, the 100+ fields of action, the vendors, the scene at the Saturday evening beer garden, and players doing layout drills into hotel pools up and down Atlantic Ave.


Plus, I had some games to play. Despite a bum shoulder and a mental pledge to take it easy this year I laid out on my first point, catching a 2-pointer and rolling through two innocent spectators. (They were fine.) Re-introducing myself to the sand was fun, and I proceeded to spend most of Saturday forgetting my earlier pledge, looking for any way possible to get horizontal. Wildwood has a way of coaxing you into making bad decisions. Also: Advil is a wonderful product.


I was much slower on Sunday. After one win and one loss we were done, a long way from any hardware, even in the Div III beer bracket. No matter, though--Wildwood had delivered, again, and I’ve already circled the dates for next year.

Wildwood 2013 -- Saturday A seagull swoops in low during the 3-1 Competitive Finals.
 
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) beach beach ultimate behind the camera burt granofsky experience w2bu wildwood wildwood ultimate https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/8/behind-the-camera-wildwood Thu, 01 Aug 2013 14:54:52 GMT
Behind the Camera: The Big Game by Kevin Leclaire https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/7/behind-the-camera-the-big-game When I volunteered to write a blog about the MLU Championship game, I had a good idea of what I wanted to talk about.  I wanted tell a story about what it meant to be covering the league’s first championship game as part of a team of four great photographers and memorializing the event for all time.  I wanted to talk about shooting with a great crowd in the background, and striving to not just get the perfect action photo, but to cover the entire championship atmosphere: fans, the band, the player introductions, the half-time locker room speech, the great venue, the trophy presentation, and the victory celebration that would surely follow.

And then sometimes the story takes itself in an entirely unplanned direction.

You don’t have the luxury of taking half a round to warm up when photographing a single game.  Fortunately I was shooting alongside UltiPhotos’ photographers Brian Canniff, Sean Carpenter, and Jolie Lang.  We didn’t have to wait long for the thrilling plays to commence. On the first point of the game Teddy Browar-Jarus got a sick D right in front of me; when I got the shot, I knew I was in the zone.

Boston Whitecaps vs. San Francisco Dogfish -- MLU 2013 Champions Teddy Browar-Jarus zeroes in on the disc just before getting the end zone D that led to the Whitecaps first break of the game.
 

When shooting any event, you have to be prepared for the unexpected.  And that moment came in the third quarter when Andrew Hagen of the Dogfish made an incredible catch between two Whitecaps flying in from opposite directions. The ensuing collision left a Whitecaps player on the ground with a serious-looking injury.

I was shaken by what I had seen through my lens.  When an injury such as this occurs, it can become difficult to bridge the gap between the personal relationships we have with the athletes on the field and our roles as photographers covering the event.

With a lump in my throat, I recognized the player on the ground as MLU and Whitecaps star Jeff Graham.  I have known Jeff since his mixed club team, the Ghosts, competed at the Chesapeake Invite; he is not only a phenomenal player, but is very friendly and approachable off the field. My thoughts leapt to his parents. I had just chatted with his father earlier that afternoon, joking that if the team bus was late, we’d have to suit up and start for the Whitecaps. I could only imagine what they were feeling in the stands.

I thought about the teammates who never left his side, and the rest who were visibly upset.  And I was thinking about the league.  The MLU, in its inaugural championship game, was facing what could be a league-defining moment from a freak collision on the field.  It seemed patently unfair that the worst-looking injury I had ever seen in 17 years of playing and watching Ultimate would occur during this historic moment.

But also racing through my mind was a classic photographer’s debate: “Should I lift my camera and take a picture?”  Out of respect for the injured player, I wanted to keep my camera lowered, but a photographer’s role is to document the event in its entirety.  Photojournalists might have a different filter on what’s acceptable than event photographers, but ultimately, we all face an ethical decision on what to post. I made the decision that I wasn’t going to post a photo of Jeff lying on the ground in those circumstances.

But the photographer in me wanted to capture the larger story in as tasteful a way as possible. I didn’t want to regret missing an image that could be the silver lining in a situation like this. And I really hoped for Jeff’s sake that there would be such an opportunity.  Thankfully, the chance came as the medical staff raised the stretcher and Jeff raised a thumb in the air to indicate that he was okay. I took a photo of the moment and breathed a sigh of relief.   
 

Only later did I notice that this image was a tale of two Jeffs.  On the left side of the frame is Jeff Snader, a respected coach before becoming the league commissioner.  He was at Jeff Graham’s side the entire time.  In the image you can’t see his eyes, because for just the briefest of moments, he has let his guard down, holding his head in his hand as a mixture of relief and lingering concern washes over him when the other Jeff raises a thumb in the air.

Boston Whitecaps vs. San Francisco Dogfish -- MLU 2013 Champions

Jeff Graham gives the thumbs up to the crowd.
 

This story has a happy conclusion. We were glad to hear at the post-game party that Jeff was itching to get out of the hospital to join the celebrations.  And when he did arrive, he walked in as the captain of MLU’s first championship team.

Boston Whitecaps vs. San Francisco Dogfish -- MLU 2013 Champions Timing is not just for game action – this is my favorite image from the post-game celebration.

 

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera boston whitecaps injury jeff graham jeff snader kevin leclaire mlu mlu championships san francisco dogfish https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/7/behind-the-camera-the-big-game Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:30:00 GMT
Behind the Camera: Make Your Own Luck by Brandon Wu https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/7/behind-the-camera-make-your-own-luck
US Open 2013 - Thursday Action I was in the right place at the right time for Ian Toner’s splashy layout but my luck wouldn’t last all weekend

Back in the day, I was a decent college Ultimate player, but I was inconsistent. Sometimes, everything seemed easy and the game came to me; but in other games, I was basically invisible –no matter what I did I couldn’t seem to make an impact on the game. Thankfully, over time I figured out how to consistently contribute to my teams’ efforts, particularly at high-stakes moments. Even if one aspect of my game wasn’t clicking, there were other things I could do to make a difference.

I’m no longer playing competitive Ultimate, but I feel like I’m in the college Ultimate phase of my Ultimate photography adventure. Sometimes it seems like I barely have to do anything and the shots come to me. The first day of this past weekend’s US Open was pretty much like that – one of my first shots of the tournament was a huge layout grab by Ian Toner of Ring of Fire that landed him directly into a giant puddle of standing water. And the shots kept coming – somehow I seemed to be in the right place at the right time over and over again.

US Open 2013 - Sunday Men's Finals One of the few good action shots I got late in the finals: Ironside’s Danny Clark holds on against tight Revolver D.

By Sunday, it seemed my luck had run out. Particularly in the highly anticipated men’s finals between Revolver and Ironside, I just couldn’t seem to get a break. All of the exciting plays were happening across the field, and twice I missed focus on ones that happened right in front of me. It was the biggest game of the weekend in the men’s division and I wasn’t getting any good pictures.

Far too late in the game, I decided I had to make my own luck – if the plays weren’t coming to me, I needed to go to them. I started chasing the action, switching sidelines and at times actually following the disc as it moved up and down the field. I realized that even if the big exciting shots weren’t there for me to grab, I could still make some creative shots away from the action. This worked reasonably well. I finally started getting some decent photos, and ended up with some keepers despite a rough first half. 

While there are always things outside your control as a sports photographer, a combination of careful planning and a willingness to chase the action can tilt the odds in your favor. I’m still learning that lesson.

US Open 2013 - Sunday Women's Finals I saw this Fury hat propped up on a water bottle with the scoreboard in the background, and it couldn’t have been better if I’d set it up myself.
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera brandon wu catching the moment luck lucky make your own luck ring of fire us open https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/7/behind-the-camera-make-your-own-luck Fri, 12 Jul 2013 16:27:59 GMT
Behind the Camera: The Ecstasy and the Agony by Scobel Wiggins https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/7/behind-the-lens-the-ecstasy-and-the-agony There hasn't been a tournament yet that I've walked away from without a moment of absolute anguish over the shots I missed.  Usually I sit quietly in the car for the storm to rage and dump before I can pick up the pieces and go on.

At that moment there is no solace afforded by the shots that I did get, because I haven't seen them yet. The mirror flips up when the shutter opens.  The moments I catch are the ones I don't see.

Every game is a loss, with no one to blame but myself.

Ben Marean lays out for the defensive bid in the Masters division of 2013 Eugene Solstice Tournament.

 

It took me six years to get a layout coming toward me.  I wanted that shot so bad. It looks so simple from the sidelines, but to the camera it is a perfect blur. With the narrowest possible depth of field, it takes a little magic to catch it.

Scobel Wiggins

Seth Wiggins of Oregon's Ego and Chase Sparling-Beckley of Carlton fly for the grab in the semi-finals of 2003 UPA College Nationals held in Austin, Texas.

 

My first thought after taking this shot of my son was that pregnancy was worth it because I knew when that boy was going.  It was just lucky that the other best face in ultimate was the trigger.   It was a superhot game at the UPA's 2003 College Nationals and I was on the sideline with the legendary photographer, a true inspiration and a mentor, Hart Matthews.  We both got the shot, but I was there a fraction of a second before him.  That's all it takes to make the difference.  I still feel for him.  Seth hates this shot.  Le sigh.

Jimmy Chu and Ron Kubalanza fly for the disc at 2006 UPA Club Nationals held in Sarasota, Fla.

 

This shot at 2007 UPA Club Nationals is another full-on layout.  I knew I got it, and I was so excited I couldn't stop shooting.  I was as surprised and gratified as everyone that I got to witness this epic demonstration of spirit. Talk about lucky!

But the truth is I dump almost everything.  I shoot 1000 frames a game, and cut them down to 35.  That's 965 that are taunting me with what a wipeout I am.  There are so many ways to mess up, and I think I've done them all.

If you are crushed that a bystander moved into your way, beat up by a glitch you did not see coming, or flattened because you came so close and still missed it— smile buddy, and welcome to my wheelhouse. To our wheelhouse. You are one of us.

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera catching the moment layout practice scobel wiggins https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/7/behind-the-lens-the-ecstasy-and-the-agony Thu, 04 Jul 2013 15:05:40 GMT
Behind the Camera: Shooting Emotion by Brian Canniff https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/behind-the-camera-shooting-emotion Sometimes, it's a moment in between points that tells a story.

I was out shooting summer league this week.  There was action on two fields near me, but my eye was drawn to two old friends greeting each other.  Both are warm and photogenic, so I paused from shooting the action and got one of my favorite shots of the night.

Elation shots are easy wins. They tell a quick story and they make people feel happy. Many of us are reserved and controlled when we are playing sports. But joy is contagious, and a photo of two happy people embracing each other seems to be the essence of ultimate.

Years ago, I took a picture of a friend who was smiling after a win at a club tourney. Sadly I saw it again at her funeral. Her father said, "We liked this shot because it was one the few we have where she was happy."  These shots we take are important.

But if elation is on one side of the ultimate coin, then defeat is on the other.

Last year, I photographed a dejected Mike Baer during a Philadelphia Spinners’ game. Brent Anderson (then with the Connecticut Constitution) had just fired a pass between Mike’s hands for a goal.  Mike was seething after coming so close to the block; Brent was sheepishly celebrating behind him.  This shot was a motivator for Mike, and his Spinners wound up winning the AUDL Championship.

Shooting pain and defeat can be hard. It can feel invasive. At USAU Club Championships in 2011, I watched Ironside defeat Doublewide.  I was getting standard jubilation shots of the Ironside players when I saw a defeated Brodie Smith crossing my frame.

Brodie would eventually share that picture on Facebook. He said that it was his motivation, and his way of remembering how much he hated losing. Doublewide won Club Championships the next year.

Sometimes you see injuries, too. I think there's a line between bearing witness to pain and exploiting it.

At winter league, I watched a collision that opened up a player’s head. There was lots of blood. I shot the play, and I shot him on the ground. I was not comfortable with the latter.

But I did like one image: it was the blood-covered hands of a woman who put pressure on her teammate’s wound.  No gloves, just love. She put herself at risk for a teammate.

These moments tell stories. They may not all be happy ones, but they are all authentic, and they all speak to the humanity of the people who play the game.

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera brian canniff defeat elation emotion ethics https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/behind-the-camera-shooting-emotion Thu, 27 Jun 2013 15:41:40 GMT
Behind the Camera: Make it Count by Scott Roeder https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/behind-the-camera-make-it-count  

Arriving early on game days allows me time set up my equipment and double check that I have full batteries and cleared memory cards.
 

Historically most photographers shooting Ultimate are presented with a minimum of two full days of shooting, which equals 6-8 rounds of games. Two-day tournaments are still the standard competition format at almost every level. What does this mean for a photographer set out to shoot a day of ultimate? It means more diving, catching, layout Ds, and more skying. It means more opportunity for those great shots. Did you have a bad round, miss some awesome plays or get some out-of-focus shots? No need to get down on yourself. Review and adjust for the next round.

 

With the growth of professional leagues such as MLU and AUDL, the format has changed to reflect the more widely recognized weekly competition schedule of most professional sports. The sport has in many ways changed for players as well as for photographers.

 

My favorite position to shoot from is at the back of the endzones, which yields action shots coming straight towards the camera. I make sure to position myself down-wind most of the time because that is where a majority of the scores will happen.
 

For me there is an obvious change in mental preparation and planning. I usually get to the venue an hour before the start of the game. This gives me time to find parking, carry my gear over, set up my computer in the media room, and dial in camera settings. Knowing that I only have 1.5-2 hours to get great action shots and tell a story has me making sure that I’m ready to go when the defensive line runs down on the first pull of the game. I am also constantly evaluating lighting conditions, wind, and scoring locations in order to adjust my shooting position on the field. I’ll even have a rough shot list and timeline in my head which helps maximize my time and capture a good variety of shots. The list goes on, but the bottom line is that my planning and workflow is modified when shooting a single game.

 

Shooting single games vs tournaments has some differences but in the end we’re still shooting the same sport that we all love.

 

When shooting night games the light changes once the stadium lights go on. Later in the game I moved to the sideline to get a new angle with the packed stands as a background and with the stadium lights directly at my back.
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera experience make it count planning scott roeder technique https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/behind-the-camera-make-it-count Wed, 19 Jun 2013 21:09:26 GMT
Behind the Camera: Keeping it Interesting by Burt Granofsky https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/behind-the-camera-keeping-it-interesting
Mixed Easterns 2013 - Saturday, Round 2 A player from Bytown Flatball Club pulls the disc at Mixed Easterns 2013. I wasted many frames before getting this shot, which was one of my favorites from the entire weekend.

I love playing ultimate. I love shooting ultimate, too, which is why I am willing to spend weekends kneeling down in the heat or the cold, watching dozens of games through a tiny viewfinder.

But shooting game after game after game--and then doing it again on Sunday--poses special challenges. It is hard to stay focused for hours on end. This is especially true at larger tourneys where I am jumping between fields every 20 minutes or so. The jerseys may change but the sport is generally played the same way: pull, swing, dump, swing, huck. Repeat.

As a photographer, I try to capture the big plays first and foremost (it always helps to have photographic evidence of that giant D you claimed to have made when bragging to friends about it afterwards). Layouts make for great pictures, as do any situations where the disc is being contested. Those are always my favorite shots. But during the later rounds on Saturday, I often start to feel like every shot I take is one that I have already taken. I find myself in a creative rut--not a good place to be when there are still many rounds to go before the Sunday finals. 

 

Tough marking on display at the 2013 USAU HS Northeastern Championships. I love the markerUSAU 2013 HS Northeasterns -- Saturday, Girls Round One Tough marking on display at the 2013 USAU HS Northeastern Championships. I love the marker's face and body language; it screams competition, and you don't have to know anything about ultimate to appreciate how intense the sport can be.

When I fall into this funk, I try to change my perspective to make things interesting again. One way to switch things up is by shooting close, which allows me to focus more on the people who are competing, not just the plays they are making. Getting close allows me to pinpoint individual stories within the larger weekend. And there are lots of stories there, usually written on the faces of the people in front of me.

It's shots like these that really make me enjoy covering ultimate. Once I get some close-ups it's back to shooting the ebb and flow of the game; I start hunting for the layouts and big Ds again. But I come back to the game refreshed, having taken some time to shoot it from another perspective.

 

The Capitals celebrate a point during 2012 USAU Northeast Regionals. Many players were celebrating, but getting close makes the moment feel more intimate.Sunday Preview -- 2012 Northeast Regionals The Capitals celebrate a point during 2012 USAU Northeast Regionals. Many players were celebrating, but getting close makes the moment feel more intimate.
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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera burt granofsky technical technique https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/behind-the-camera-keeping-it-interesting Tue, 11 Jun 2013 18:03:49 GMT
UltiPhotos Behind the Camera: High School Westerns by Scobel Wiggins https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/ultiphotos-behind-the-camera-high-school-westerns We are very excited to announce the revival of our blog with a look Behind the Camera with Scobel Wiggins. Scobel has been shooting for UltiPhotos since early this year, but has been an Ultimate Photographer for fifteen years. Here she talks about shooting her latest tournament, High School Westerns. Keep an eye out for future blog posts from our talented photographers!
 
HS Westerns, Sunday
 
Last weekend I covered High School Westerns in Corvallis Oregon.  It was the first time I shot a tournament without knowing a single player, and it's been ten years since I've shot high school.  Some things have changed, others are rock solid.
 
First thing, the kids were awesome.  That part is exactly the same and refreshingly new at the same time.  Their parents were awesome too.
 
There were a lot of them; after South Eugene won about 100 people made a tunnel for the boys. I heard coaching from the sidelines, which was unnerving, but it's hard to argue a call when the players agree and you could tell the first-time fans were working it out. One grandmother was so moved hearing about Ultimate Peace I think she raced home to make a contribution.  And a quick conversation about a punctured lung I witnessed long ago had them moving bikes and watching out for their kids all day long.  But maybe the best was a parent from Eugene who cleaned up every sideline they visited.  I saw two banana peels on the ground all weekend, and I think he might have picked them up too.
 
Kids play hard and there were lots of stoppages for cramping and injuries.  One kid hurt himself by tying his shoes too tight, but one of MLU's stars outdid him by hurting himself this weekend using too much Ben-Gay. 
HS Westerns, Sunday
 
An athlete told me she'd had four concussions in two months, I suggested a helmet and she just laughed.   And it all got me thinking how few injuries the Rainmakers have suffered this year, and wondering if the difference isn't Ren Caldwell of RenFitness who keeps the players toned and balanced.
 
The love the coaches have for their athletes was a beautiful thing to see.
 
Thanks to USAU and David Raflo for an extremely well run tournament.
 

HS Westerns, Sunday

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) behind the camera high school high school westerns scobel wiggins states usau youth https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2013/6/ultiphotos-behind-the-camera-high-school-westerns Thu, 06 Jun 2013 16:18:47 GMT
The Ultimate Athlete Handbook & Tourney Updates https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2012/3/the-ultimate-athlete-handbook-tourney-updates It's been a very busy few weeks for UltiPhotos and I'm very excited about the growing network of Ultimate photographers that we are bringing together to provide coast-to-coast coverage of this sport we all love.  Today's blog includes updates on The Ultimate Athlete Handbook, the Stanford Invite, and the New England Open.

 

The Ultimate Athlete Handbook

On February 27th, the first-ever e-book dedicated to Ultimate-specific fitness training was released.  This e-book is written by Ultimate fitness expert Melissa Witmer of Ultimate Results and produced by Skyd Magazine in collaboration with UltiPhotos

It's called The Ultimate Athlete Handbook and it's a guide to forging optimal fitness for the sport of Ultimate. The book includes sample workouts, training explanations and video demonstrations.  It's a fantastic book for athletes of all ages and skill levels to develop or augment their training foundation for the sport. UltiPhotos contributed some of our best action photos from the 2011 USA Ultimate College and Club Championships to help provide inspiration for your workouts.  Finally, $1 off each sale goes to support a great cause in Ultimate Peace.

We're very pleased with the extremely positive reviews that book has garnered so far, including:

  • Ultimate Rob's review. His conclusion: "I would recommend this handbook to any level ultimate player. Read it. Learn from it. Apply it. And become a better player and athlete."
  • Ultimate Thoughts review: "This represents a huge step forward for ultimate. It’s is a real treat, and a resource I’ve been wanting for years but just didn’t realize until I had it in front of me."

For more information, check out The Ultimate Athlete Handbook's Facebook page or this sample of what's inside the 50-page e-book! Inside the sample, you can find the intro, a foreword by Tim Morrill, the first few pages of chapter 1, and a list of endorsements from some of the top names in Ultimate. It also previews a sweet photo including Opi Payne of Scandal Ultimate and Kelly Tidwell Phoenix Women's Ultimate.

Over 140 individual copies and several team copies have been sold to date!  Order your copy now and take advantage of this essential guide to Ultimate fitness training today.

 

The Stanford Invite 2012

This past weekend, photographer Kyle McBard joined UltiPhotos for the first time ever to provide coverage of the 2012 Stanford Invite.  She captured some great shots which are up in the preview galleries.  Expect the full galleries to be posted later this week.

Sunday preview action from Stanford Invite 2012

Cal skies for the disc at the 2012 Stanford Invite.

 

The 2012 New England Open

We are very excited to announce the addition of photographer Burt Granofsky to the UltiPhotos team.  He will be providing the Official Tournament Photography for the 2012 New England Open on behalf of UltiPhotos.  Burt is an experienced Ultimate photographer out of Boston and we are glad to welcome him on board for this 32-team College Open division tournament.  Here's a sample of what Burt shot last year at the Northeast Club Regionals:

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) New England Open Stanford Invite Ultimate Athlete Handbook https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2012/3/the-ultimate-athlete-handbook-tourney-updates Wed, 07 Mar 2012 22:02:06 GMT
Welcome to the UltiPhotos Blog – Ultimate views from behind the lens https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2012/2/blogging-at-ultiphotos We would like to introduce you to a new feature on UltiPhotos.com, the UltiPhotos Blog. 

UltiPhotos has grown to become the most comprehensive source of elite Ultimate tournament photography. UltiPhotos is made possible by the collaboration of several skilled photographers whose goal is to showcase the amazing action and the wonderful moments experienced in the sport of Ultimate for players and fans to enjoy for many years to come. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter and, now for the first time, we bring you the UltiPhotos Blog.

 

Our blog will feature the following:

  • Stories "from behind the lens" about some of the most exciting plays or great moments captured in our photos.
  • News about upcoming tournaments that we will be covering or photo galleries that we have posted.
  • Highlights about great Ultimate-centric products that our photos are a part of (including the newly released Ultimate Athlete Handbook).
  • Anything else we think is cool and relevant.

 

So, without further ado, here's a quick update about the tournaments we will be covering in March 2012.

March 3-4, Stanford Invite

Kyle McBard joins UltiPhotos as a guest photographer to provide coverage of one of college Ultimate's most competitive tournaments, the Stanford Invite.  The Open Division features reigning USAU D-I Champion, Carleton CUT and runners-up, the Wisconsin Hodags.  Over half of the 16-team Open field made the USAU D-I Championships last year.  In the Women's Division, the reigning USAU D-I Champion UCSB Burning Skirts and a field of Championship contenders look to hold off newcomer Sonoma State.

March 24-25, Steakfest '12

UltiPhotos' Kevin Leclaire and Brian Canniff will combine to provide the Official Tournament Photography for this exciting East coast tournament hosted by the Shippensburg University Scapegoats.  Open Schedule and Women's Schedule will be up later in March.  Check out my favorite photo from last year's tournament, where Ben Nguyen of Catholic University makes a fantastic layout catch as his defender lays out over him in an attempt to get the disc.  If Ben hadn't laid out, there would have been a massive collision.  This photo made the Spring 2011 edition of the USA Ultimate Magazine.

Steakfest Sunday Teaser Photos

March 30-April 1, Fools Fest

UltiPhotos will be providing Official Tournament Photography for the 35th Annual WAFC April Fools Fest held March 30-April 1, 2012 in Fredericksburg, VA.  Fools is the longest running annual tournament in the world.  It's a super-fun reunion/theme tournament and the photos will prove it!  Kevin Leclaire and Pete Guion will be providing the bulk of the coverage, including for the famed Saturday Night Party Slideshow.  Brian Canniff will also be contributing some Sunday playoff photos if and when his own team finishes. Here are a few samples from last year's Fools-ishness.

Jane Romantseva, aka T-Rex Ironman, makes the catchFools Fest 2011 - Friday Action

Jane Romantseva, aka T-Rex Iron Man makes the catch.

Fools Fest 2011 - Friday Action

Scuba "Incredibles" Kreider needs some refreshment.

Fools Fest 2011 - Saturday Round 5 Action

And don't forget Blind Boxing!

 

We hope you enjoy the UltiPhotos Blog!

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orders@ultiphotos.com (UltiPhotos) Fools Fest Stanford Invite Ultimate Athlete Handbook blind boxing catholic layout steakfest tourneys welcome https://www.ultiphotos.com/blog/2012/2/blogging-at-ultiphotos Tue, 28 Feb 2012 19:05:07 GMT